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Selectmen Meeting Minutes — December 21, 2009—7:00 p.m. — Memorial Hall.

Call to order -- the meeting was called to order by Chairman, John Payne. Other members present: Joe Judd and Bob Manners.

Acceptance of Minutes -- a motion was made by Bob to accept the Selectmen's minutes of December 7, 2009 as presented. Joe seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Noteworthy News:
Village Information Center Furnace Replacement -- donations to help offset the cost of the furnace are as follows:

Shelburne Falls Area Civic Beautification Group $500
Shelburne Falls Area Business Association $500
Mohawk Trail Concerts $250

Department Liaison Reports:
Police -- in an effort to free up more space at Memorial Hall, Joe and Chief Walker have been looking at possible off-site locations to house the police department. Recognizing that the town is not in a position to spend a great deal of money, Joe stressed that this exercise is merely exploratory and may not come to fruition.
Joe would like to send a memorandum to the Chairman's of all town boards and committees; letting them know that the Selectmen are working to resolve the ongoing conflicts surrounding the lack of meeting space.

Highway -- Bob reported that Mass Highway has agreed to resume responsibility for the small stretch of road (formerly Route 2) just east of Clark's Corvair. The two abutters whose property runs parallel to the roadway will be notified in writing.

Concerns were voiced by abutters of Memorial Drive who were displeased by the plowing efforts of the private contractor. Bob indicated that the first storm is always exploratory for a new contractor and that Pete intends to discuss the concerns with him.

The Highway department's backhoe is in need of major repair and is no longer covered under the warranty. Bob explained that the problem is in the "rear" end and is gear-related. He is unsure whether or not the two new rear tires contributed to the problem. The backhoe has been towed to a "JCB" dealer in Connecticut for assessment and repair. Estimated cost for repair is $5,000.

Town Office -- John reported that the Collector continues to work hard at collecting delinquent taxes.

7:30 p.m. Public Hearing RE: Tree Removal -- at the request of Tree Warden, Jim Richardson, the Board of Selectmen held a public hearing to allow for public comment. Jim explained that all of the trees located on Old Greenfield Road and Frank Williams road are being removed because they are dead. The remainder of the trees located on Zerah Fiske Road, are being removed at the request of the Highway Superintendent to allow for road improvements. All trees have been marked. As funding allows, Jim hopes to be able to continue tree trimming and removal along a few other town roads. In closing, Jim explained his policy on the disbursement of the wood. The home owner and abutters have first rights to the wood. If there is no interest, the wood is then piled away from the roadside and made available to residents who are willing to cut it up and haul it away. In certain circumstances and providing the distance is not too great, the wood is delivered to interested residents. Residents interested in obtaining fire wood may contact the Tree Warden. Public hearing closed at 7:40 p.m. No public comments voiced.

OLD BUSINESS:
Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Directives -- at their last meeting, the Selectmen agreed to level funded operating expenses for all departmental budgets. The only decision remaining was that relating to salary increases. Before making any decisions, members of the Board wanted an opportunity to see what the financial impact would be. Terry Mosher presented varying scenarios that included only those eligible for step increases, 1%; 2%; and 2.5% increases. Before starting, Bob Manners requested that the discussion be broken into two segments; one for full-time employees and the second for part-time employees. Being that Bob is a part-time employee who directly benefits from discussions relating to salary increases; he wanted to abstain from the discussion.

Agreeing with Bob's request, the first segment of discussion focused on salary increases for full-time employees. John opened the discussion by providing a sampling of what other municipalities are offering for budgetary guidelines; many of which had decided upon minimal or no increases.

Bob recommended a 2.5% increase for everyone. He indicated that the Highway Superintendent was willing to absorb the increase within his operating budget so the overall financial impact would be zero. He spoke of the higher costs of living, the ever increasing costs of health insurance, and the need to reward employees.

Although Joe agreed in principle and was extremely supportive of the town's employees, he was having a hard time justifying a 2.5% increase across the board. He recommended a 2.5% step increase for the six eligible employees and a 1% increase for everyone else.

John's inclination was to build a budget using Joe's recommendation. He agreed that Shelburne has an exceptional group of employees and understood why Bob was advocating for them however, these are tough times and everyone is being forced to make difficult decisions. John stated that he would much rather tighten "belts" than cut hours or lay people off. With that said, a motion was made by John to recommend a 2.5% "step" increase for eligible employees and a 1% increase for all other full-time employees. Joe seconded the motion. Discussion: Bob felt that it was a shame that Shelburne was following other towns instead of being a leader.

Following no further discussion the vote was as follows: 2 yes; Bob abstained.
Salary Increases for Part-time Employees and Elected Officials -- Bob removed himself from the table and did not partake in the discussion. Both Joe and John agreed that each and every part-time worker and elected official is essential to the overall operation of the town. Following a brief discussion, John made a motion that suggested a 1% increase in salary for all part-time employees and elected officials. Joe seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Main Street, Shelburne/Franklin Street, Buckland Reconstruction Bids -- 13 bids were received at a recent bid opening for the reconstruction of Main Street in Shelburne and Franklin Street in Buckland. Representatives from Weston and Samspon Engineering are in the process of reviewing bids and checking references. A recommendation for award will be brought forth in early January.

Additional Ice Storm Reimbursement -- Last year, a state of emergency was declared for counties in the Central and Western region of the Commonwealth due to an ice storm. Thanks to the partnership between the Governor's Administration, local officials and the federal government, an additional $5.5 million will be distributed to communities impacted by the December, 2008 storm. In addition to what has already been received, Shelburne will receive an additional $6,853.

NEW BUSINESS:
Resignation of Alain Peteroy - Open Space Committee -- Alain Peteroy of Reynolds Road submitted a letter of resignation from the Open Space Committee. Alain and her family are relocating to Worthington, MA in early February. A motion was made by Bob to accept Alain's resignation with regret. Joe seconded the motion stating that Alain is a "gifted" individual and she willed be missed. Both John and Bob echoed Joe's sentiments. Motion carried unanimously.

Appointment of Paul Cohen -- Open Space Committee -- the Board received a letter from Larry Flaccus, Chairman of the Open Space Committee requesting that Paul Cohen of 135 Bridge Street be appointed to serve as a member of the Open Space Committee for the remainder of the unexpired term vacated by Alain Peteroy. Larry indicated that Paul has met with their committee and they found him to be knowledgeable and interested in participating in the types of activities that the Open Space Committee is engaged in. A motion was made by Bob to appoint Paul Cohen to the un-expired three year term ending in 2011. Joe seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Zoning Board of Appeals RE: Request to Increase Filing Fees and Need for an Alternate Member -- at their November meeting, members of the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to increase their filing fees for special permit applications from $45 to $85 to cover the increased costs of advertising and postage. Before finalizing their fee structure, the Zoning Board would like to receive the Selectmen's approval. Joe made a motion to approve the recommended fee increase for special permit applications. Bob seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

The Zoning Board is also in need of an additional alternate member. Interested residents should contact the Zoning Board Chairman, Joe Palmeri.

Senior Center Update -- Joe attended a Strategic Planning session at the Senior Center last week to hear more about the proposed new structure for the Center. Without going into a lot of detail, Joe stated the new structure would encompass satellite services; similar to a university setting. Although the cost factor will play a major role, Joe indicated that it was well received by those in attendance. The Director hopes to visit each town prior to annual town meeting to make a presentation of the proposal. While on the subject, John indicated that the Senior Center is currently situated in a relatively expensive location. He suggested that while Joe is looking at alternate sites for the Police Department; that he should keep the Senior Center in mind as well. Also, using the Senior Center as an example, John also recommended that other groups like the Arms Library should be looking at broader based funding sources; rather than rely on town appropriations.

MIIA Insurance Coverage RE: Two Year Renewal Proposal -- as a valued member of the MIIA program, Shelburne is being offered a two-year renewal which includes a rate change of 0% for Fiscal Year 2011, and a rate increase of o more than 2.5% increase in Fiscal Year 2012. The deadline for accepting the proposal is December 29, 2009. Joe discussed the merit in bidding large expenditures such as this. Recognizing that there is not enough time to bid the town's insurance this year, he made a motion to accept MIIA's proposal as presented and recommended that the town seek bids in June or July of 2011. Bob seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Linda Bickford RE: Resignation as Planning Board Clerk -- the Selectmen received a letter of resignation from part-time Planning Board Clerk, Linda Bickford. The letter states that despite her efforts to try and accommodate the needs of the Board and its members, she has not been able to garner their consideration or attention on pending business matters. A motion was made by Bob to accept Linda's resignation with regret. Joe seconded the motion.

Discussion: Bob indicated that hiring a clerk for the Planning Board was in direct response to the public's concerns (timely minutes, timely responses to record requests, etc). He feels as though the Board of Selectmen has done everything in their power to facilitate the needs of the Planning Board yet, two clerks have resigned in a one-year period. Joe stated that he was sorry to lose Linda in this capacity. He too is beginning to wonder if there is enough work to warrant a Planning Board clerk.

Hearing the news of Linda's resignation, Matt Marchese, Chairman of the Planning Board asked Terry Mosher to share his thoughts. Given the town's current fiscal situation, Matt plans on asking members of the Planning Board if they would be willing to forgo hiring a clerk for the remainder of the fiscal year. He indicated that the vast majority of Linda's time was spent on the minutes and he would like to explore the possibility of having one of the current members take on that responsibility.

The Selectmen were extremely appreciative of Matt's sensitivity to the town's fiscal crisis however before any future consideration were to be given toward hiring another clerk, members of the Planning Board would have to come in and discuss their needs.

Dick Bole RE: Resignation from the Carl Nilman Scholarship Committee -- Albeit late; the Board of Selectmen received a letter of resignation from Dick Bole effective September 15, 2009. Dick has served on the Carl Nilman scholarship committee for over 15 years. Joe made a motion to accept Dick's resignation with regret. Bob seconded the motion.

Discussion: Joe brought forth Marion Taylor's name as a potential appointee. Bob suggested that the Board accept Dick's resignation, make the public aware of the vacancy, and revisit the appointment in early January. Everyone agreed. Motion carried unanimously.

OTHER BUSINESS:
Arms Library Roof Leak -- just over a week ago, the Arms Library experienced yet another leak in the roof. Upon further investigation, highway personnel discovered an ice jam caused by a blockage of leaves in the roof drains. Bob recommended that leaf removal be added to the list of regularly scheduled maintenance. John will discuss with the Building Committee at the next meeting.

Town Clerk RE: Request to Attend Conference -- Town Clerk, Beverly Neeley has requested permission to attend a one-day winter conference for Massachusetts Town Clerk's in Sturbridge, MA. The cost of the conference is $25.00. Beverly indicated a willingness to pay for her own lunch. Given the current financial climate and in keeping with similar requests brought forth by other town officials, the Board denied the Town Clerk's request.

Town Clerk Certification -- Town Clerk, Beverly Neeley has requested that the Chairman of the Board sign a letter certifying her year's of service with the town. This letter is part of a packet that will be submitted on the Clerk's behalf so that she can become certified. Before making any decisions, John would like an opportunity to speak with Beverly to learn more about the benefits of a certified town clerk and determine whether or not it will require additional compensation.

Keystone Forestry Project -- John Payne extended an invitation to fellow board members to attend a three-day training program that takes place both in the classroom and in the forest. The purpose of the seminar is to learn more about open space, land preservation, managing forest cutting plans, etc.

CORRESPONDENCE: none

PUBLIC COMMENT: none

ADJOURNMENT -- a motion was made by Joe to adjourn the meeting at 9:00 p.m. Motion seconded by Bob. Motion carried unanimously.